The University of Rhode Island Student Senate held a debate on Tuesday night for the upcoming presidential election.
Senators contending for the position are Sam King and Ryan Buck. King currently serves as the chair of the Student Organization Advisory Review Committee, and has served on every other committee of senate apart from the External Affairs Committee. Buck currently serves as the finance chair, but has also served on multiple committees.
Both candidates received questions regarding how they plan to speak for the entirety of the student body, how they will work to reject racism and discrimination on campus, how and what they will address issues on campus and ultimately, why the student body should elect them for the position.
“I think what students will be missing by not choosing me as their president is my vast institutional memory of our organization,” King said. “I’m the longest standing executive member eligible to return next year. I’ve seen a lot.”
Ro Percy, King’s pick for vice president, said he is dedicated to helping students and promoting more diversity and inclusion on campus.
If Buck and his vice president pick, Andrew Donnelly, were not to be elected, Buck said he feels that students would miss out on better representation on campus.
“We make up two different colleges on campus, of different backgrounds, of different types of students,” Buck said. “I think we can take that back to our general senate very well.”
Donnelly stressed that even if he isn’t elected, he still plans to work towards helping the student body.
“If there’s something on campus that needs to happen for one student or 1,000 students, I’m still going to be there,” Donnelly said. “Whether it’s being a representative on the committee, whether it’s being vice president, or whether it’s being a simple student.”
All candidates pledged to work towards being a better voice for the student body, from issues such as parking, more inclusion on campus, to better opportunities for experiential education.
Buck emphasized that the Student Senate is a campus-based organization, not just a Union based organization. In order to promote better transparency and accessibility, Buck said he wants to take better advantage of newsletters or video communications so that the students can see what senate is working towards.
King echoed this by stressing that senators need to get out of the office and move around the campus more. Percy said that senators should be making more of an effort to attend student organization events – especially events that the senate helps fund.
After hearing questions from the moderator, the candidates received two questions from the audience. Junior Selena A. Evora asked the candidates how they would plan to bring more student organizations together on campus, particularly Greek life and multicultural organizations.
“Being a student of both multicultural orgs and Greek [life], there’s such a disconnect,” Evora said. “Before I became president of Phi Sig I was the community service chair of CVSA and I would see that the interaction between groups is nonexistent. We’re all students of this university, so why separate into groups?”
King said that this is something that she’s already started to work towards during her time as SOARC chair with one-on-one student organization meetings. If she hears that two different organizations are trying to put on similar events, she’s tried to help them join efforts.
Although the debate was meant to be open students who could not be in attendance, time allotment constraints did not allow questions sent through Twitter to be heard. According to Student Senate Director of Communications Adriana Wilding, there were seven question sent in via Twitter. Wilding noted that some of the students who were encouraged to send in their questions over social media sent in more than one.